Coverage of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways

American Says It Will Add Seats on Many Planes

By David Koenig
|  Monday, Jun 17, 2013  |  Updated 2:56 PM CDT
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More Rows, Less Legroom For AA Passengers

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American Airlines expects to add seats on Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets.

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More Rows, Less Legroom For AA Passengers

American Airlines expects to add more seats to some of its planes, which could mean less leg room for passengers.
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American Airlines expects to add more seats to some of its planes, which could mean less leg room for passengers.

The airline's parent company, AMR Corp., disclosed the move in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

American's vice president of flight service, Lauri Curtis, said that the airline constantly examines its operations, including trying to match the number of seats with travel demand.

Curtis said airline officials expect to add seats on Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets, "but we haven't yet determined the right number of seats, and as a result, the impact on revenue and cost."

Airlines add seats for the obvious reason -- they can sell more tickets that way. But it usually results in less leg room for passengers.

Southwest Airlines Co. has been installing thinner seat cushions but is still cutting an inch of leg room as it adds six seats each to some of its Boeing 737s. The makeover will help Southwest boost passenger-carrying capacity by 4 percent without buying any new planes.

American spokeswoman Stacey Frantz said that whatever American decides, it will still sell what it calls Main Cabin Extra seats, which have more leg room and cost more than other seats in economy class.

American's 737s have at least six seats that are blocked with a bar. A source familiar with American Airlines' seating plan who could not speak on the record told NBC 5 that if new seats are approved, the airline might simply remove the bar on those blocked-seats.

Using those six seats would not affect the legroom or configuration of those aircraft, the source said.

While raising revenue, adding seats can also increase an airline's labor costs.

Frantz said American's 737s have 148 or 150 seats. Federal safety rules require one flight attendant for every 50 seats, so exceeding 150 seats would force American to put a fourth flight attendant on those planes.

American operates 195 Boeing 737s and 190 of the MD-80s, according to its website. Together, the planes make up nearly two-thirds of American's fleet.

American's employees got an update on the seating plans during a meeting in Fort Worth with executives who'll lead the airline after it merges with US Airways Group Inc.


American Airlines Merger:
Complete coverage of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways into the newly-formed Fort Worth-based company, American Airlines Group (AAL). Click here for more.

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